May 24, 2019
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Bullfighters, soldiers, TV personalities, the new faces of Spanish politics

By Antonia Méndez Ardila

Madrid, Apr 17 (efe-epa).- Bullfighters, soldiers and television personalities are among those who will make up Spain's next parliament, with many parties having chosen candidates with no political background to run in the next general election.

Parties choosing independent candidates as their "star signings," like economists or high-flying judges, is not a new concept but the general election on Apr. 28 will see a high number of non-professional politician candidates.

FEWER POLITICIANS, MORE CELEBRITIES IN THE NEXT PARLIAMENT

On the center-right and right, Ciudadanos (Citizens), the Popular Party (PP) and Vox are the parties for which the biggest names are running. Candidates running for the Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) and Unidas Podemos (United We Can) are mostly from within party ranks.

"In a changing political landscape there is a need for bombshells and I think that is part of what's happening," José Antonio Ruiz San Román, a professor in political communication at Madrid's Complutense University, told Efe.

Bullfighters Miguel Abellán and Salvador Vega feature on the PP's lists for Madrid and Malaga, while fellow "torero" Serafin Marín is running for Vox in Barcelona.

Marín performed at the last fight at Barcelona's bullring in 2011 before bullfighting was banned in Catalonia.

Both the PP and Vox have defended bullfighting as being central to Spain's identity and put it ahead of pro-independence demands. Others have criticized its politicization.

"Putting bullfighting within the political debate does no good to the bulls," Culture Minister José Guirao told Efe.

Members of the military are also running for Vox, which has a lieutenant general, two division generals, a brigadier general and a colonel at the top of its list in five districts. They are all in reserve, otherwise, they would not be able to participate in politics.

The bullfighters and military personnel are joined by faces from the media, such as journalist Pablo Montesinos, a regular at political gatherings who tops the PP's list for Malaga.

Journalist Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo is the PP's number one in Barcelona, while Edurne Uriarte, a political commentator who regularly appears on television, is the PP's number three for Madrid.

The father of a girl murdered in 2008, Juan José Cortés, features on the PP's list in the southern port city of Huelva.

A well-known defender of children's rights, Juan Catrecasas, is running for the PSOE.

He was the founder of the National Association of Stolen Children that protects victims of child abuse within the Catholic Church.

Ciudadanos also incorporates prominent personalities from beyond the political arena, including the former vice president of Coca-Cola, Marcos de Quinto, number two in Madrid, as well as former State lawyer, Edmundo Bal.

According to sociologist Alberto Penadés, the director of the latest report on democracy in Spain by the Alternatives Foundation, the emergence of these new candidates is "a symptom related to the crisis of confidence of the parties," which have reacted to this by "changing their method of selecting candidates," either through primary elections or by taking on candidates from outside the political arena.

SIGN OF RENEWAL OR OWING TO PARTY NEEDS?

All these candidates have a real chance of making up a fully renewed parliament, since Spain's two main parties, the PSOE and PP, have replaced about 80 percent of their lists.

Elsewhere, the younger Ciudadanos "is in full expansion" and Vox "has very limited membership," so independents have been included out of need, according to Ruiz San Román.

For Penadés, including people from beyond politics on the electoral lists is to "make posters," and there are more of them running in the center-right bloc because that is where there is a greater fight for votes.

The inclusion of non-professional would-be lawmakers takes place at a time in Spanish politics when five national parties have a chance for parliamentary representation.

All the polls foresee a fragmented Parliament in which pacts will be essential. EFE-EPA

ma/sh/rb

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